If you recoil at the idea of networking or shudder at the thought of small talk don’t despair! You’re not alone and Careers & Employability can help you, whether you’re in the Discover, Focus, or Action stage of career planning.
What is networking?
Collins English Dictionary suggests that “networking is the process of trying to meet new people who might be useful to you in your job, often through social activities”.
Sound scary? Our Careers Consultant, Jalal, helps explain why networking is actually very normal:
“a lot of people feel intimidated by the idea of networking, but communicating with other human beings is something we all do naturally; networking is just making contact with other people in your own way.”
So there we have it. Networking doesn’t have to mean honing in on new contacts, or asking for a job; it can be catching up with people you already know and learning more about what work they do. In other words, it’s already part of our daily interactions.
Although it might seem intimidating, networking successfully is a skill that is becoming increasingly crucial in the world of work.
- If you’re in the discovery phase of your career planning and what you want to do, talking to other people who’ve made the move from education to work or to further education will help you reflect on your own priorities – do you want to do the same kind of work they do? Or are you left feeling uninspired by their role? There is no “right” answer, but use networking conversations to reflect more on yourself.
- If you’re in the focus stage and narrowing down on industries or roles, you can hone in on specific sectors to find out what work there really looks like. Networking can be a great way of sourcing internships or forming a mentor-mentee relationship which can also help you focus your ideas.
- If you’re in the action phase and looking to apply for jobs, networking will raise your business profile; if a company has already been introduced to you in a social setting, you’ll be on a strong footing to start applying there.
How to network?
Now you know why you should network, let’s think about how to start.
You’re not going to build a huge network overnight – start by conversing with your current contacts (co-workers or university course mates, for example) and gradually expand and curate your network
- Connect with the right people
It’s much better to connect with fewer, useful people than taking a scatter-gun approach to get numbers. The right people are those willing to help you, and they’ll be interested in a long-term relationship. As Jalal advises, networking is a way of “building mutually-beneficial relationships”
Networking is a honed skill and practice really does make perfect.
So what now?
Speaking of practice, King’s Careers and Employability is holding events to help you do just that with top employers on campus.
Visit King’s CareerConnect to sign up to:
- Public sector networking night, 15th October
- Future Advantage workshop: networking, 16th October
- Careers+: The basics of networking workshop, 3rd December
And whether you’re a current student or alumni, you can register with the Forever King’s global alumni community to meet mentors or mentees!